Cryogenic Science Ltd was the UK subsidiary of DeepSleep Inc located in the USA and the only privately owned cryogenic facility in the UK. When DeepSleep filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy the financial collapse of Cryogenic Science was inevitable, CS Ltd was put into administration with the subsequent investigations revealing massive financial and technical mismanagement within the company. No members of CS Ltd’s board of directors were arrested and despite the obvious malfeasance that occurred, the former Chief Executive Officer and his Head of Research at CS were both allowed to returned unhindered to the USA. The government funded the restructuring of the company and incorporated it into the Ministry of Life Enhancement, otherwise known as MOLE, replacing the former CEO with a government appointee who immediately ordered that an attempted resuscitation was to be made of all the bodies and brains cryogenically frozen at CS under the directions his new Head of Research Dr Bethany Volcker.
Dr Volcker was MOLE’s special scientific liaison officer advisor to Cryogenic Science Ltd and when the government took over the restructured company welcomed her appointment as its Head of Research by the Ministry. She knew that the twentieth century technology and science behind the CS cryogenic facility was flawed as it had been scientifically proven that the vitrifaction processes used at the time would failed in their purpose. Also, Beth’s work for MOLE as a senior cryobiologist and pathophysiologist had always confirmed the original findings. She maintained that all of the bodies cryogenically frozen at the CS facility were already dead and that all vital functions of the bodies had absolutely no possibility of being restored. When she met the newly appointed CEO and put her views to him, he readily agreed that she could immediately start harvesting all of the bodies and brains cryogenically frozen at CS for scientific purposes.
Attempting resuscitation would provide Beth with a unique opportunity to study the cryogenic effects of long term attempts at organ and body tissue preservation. Possibly leading to the scientific breakthrough that she had failed to find at the MOLE facility. She was heartened by the fact that the scientists and technicians she was now working with at CS, who were all well meaning and dedicated people, did not believe that either the deep frozen brains or bodies cryogenically preserved there were capable of being resuscitated. She had supervised the resuscitation of all but two of the bodies at CS and all of the brains harvested from their cryogenic suspension, each time confirming her assessment, they were all dead as expected with any tissue and organs being made non-viable by the vitrifaction and cryogenic process used. Far from being disappointed the CEO seemed relieved each time that Beth told him of a failure to resuscitate. She had mixed feelings about it, on one hand the outcome proved her right but it also failed to take her research into harvested organ preservation forward other than confirming her previous findings.
Having decided to spend the night at the penthouse she was given access to as head of research at the CS facility, Beth was surprised to be woken up by her VisioScreen alarm and seeing the image of a lab technician. Asking the technician why she had been woken up she was told by the technician that he had panicked when a body they were checking on in a resuscitation chamber had moved. He had run out of the lab and by the time he had recovered enough to re-enter two patrol troopers had arrived.
“What’s happening now?” asked Beth as she hurriedly dressed.
“The night staff have congregating around the door of the lab doctor and the troopers have forbidden anyone to enter. My colleague is in there with the troopers, when I ran out he stayed but now looks to be in a state of shock.”
“Stay where you are I’ll be right down.”
Arriving at the resuscitation lab Beth was confronted by members of the night shift peering through the windows in the doors, the staff at the door stood aside for her and angry at their unprofessional behaviour Beth told them to get back to their duty stations. All but one of them sheepishly dispersed. Recognising the technician who had just called her Beth said, “You saw the body move?”
“It definitely moved Doctor, first it blinked then it raised its hand, frightening me as I wasn’t expecting either to happen, which is why I initially ran out of the lab. I’m afraid that my action may have caused the consternation here. I was about to go back in to help my colleague when the troopers arrived. Now they won’t allow anyone to enter the lab.”
Beth peered into the lab and saw two patrol troopers, one dealing with a lab technician who was lying prone on the floor and the other standing peering into a resuscitation chamber. Beth said to the lab technician, “Will you come into the lab with me now, your colleague clearly isn’t a fit state to help with this situation?”
“Good,” replied Beth, “we need to examine the body immediately,” and with that burst into the lab
When they entered the lab the patrol trooper standing over the resuscitation chamber turned saying, “I ordered all the staff to remain outside. What are you two doing in here?”
Just then the trooper’s VS alarmed. She waved at Beth and the lab technician indicating that they should not come any further into the lab and looking at the VS said, ‘Hello Sarge.’
“An update Sami — what’s going on there?”
“We’re in the lab now Sarge and apart from the lab technician in a state of shock, things look normal, whatever normal in a place like this is.”
“That’s good,” said Sergeant Qasi, “I’ve been told that a Special Recovery Unit from the Ministry of Life Enhancement will be with you soon to collect the body that caused this biometric mayhem to set off the alarm there.”
Sami’s curiosity was aroused on hearing that a body being revived after having been frozen had caused the alarm and she wanted to see it. Suggesting to Sergeant Qasi that they didn’t the SRU and that the body was already in the right place.
“Dammit, not another argument Sami, just get on with your job and wait for the SRU!”
Sami thought, Why would MOLE send an SRU to collect the body in the middle of the night? Did Qasi tell them of the incident or were they also monitoring the biometric alarms from the staff here? If so,why? Surely the whole point was to bring a frozen body back to life and what better place than here?
Sami truculently responded, “Anything you say Sarge.” Beth and her assistant instead of staying at the lab entrance were now approaching Sami, who interrupted her conversation with Sergeant Qasi to say, “Hold on Sarge, there someone who claims to be the head of research here demanding to see the body.”
“I can see that Sami, it’s Dr Bethany Volcker the other person is a lab assistant. Let me talk to the doctor.”
Sami looked at Beth who said to Sergeant Qasi in a very authoritarian tone, “I need your trooper to stand aside and let me examine the body immediately.”
Beth’s authority as the head researcher at CS clearly had no effect on Sergeant Qasi who replied, “I’m afraid that’s not possible doctor. They’re sending a Special Recovery Unit to collect the body and I have instructions not to allow anyone near it, including you and any staff at CS. I must ask you to leave and allow my troopers to do their job.”
Sami ended the conversation with, “Thanks Sarge, we’ll tell you when the SRU has finished here,” and said to Beth, “I’m sorry doctor, but you heard the sergeant’s instructions.”
“Can I at least just look at the body?”, implored Beth.
“You heard my sergeant,” Sami replied.
“I know, but surely it can’t do any harm if I just look at body.”
Just then Jon called out, “Hey Sami! Come and give me a hand over here.” Sami smiled benignly at Beth, turned around and went over to Jon who was trying to control an increasingly hysterical and agitated lab technician and was now trying to get up.
With that Beth and her lab technician went over to the body in the resuscitation chamber, as they were taking notes Sami’s VS alarmed again. “What the hells going on Sami? You heard me say to Dr Volcker that she wasn’t to go near the body! What’s she and her assistant still doing in the lab?”
“Sorry Sarge! Jon needed a hand and I expected them to leave. The guy Jon is dealing with is in a severe state of shock.”
“I can see that trooper. I don’t care what state he’s in. Clear the lab now, the SRU has arrived.”
Sami looked quickly looked around the lab and saw that it was being monitored by a number of surveillance pods. Was Qasi visually monitoring what is going on in here, she wondered, and is someone else?
Looking at Beth Sami called out, “I thought that you had both left. We all have to leave the lab now, the SRU has arrived to collect the body. I’ll escort you out doctor.” Then told the Lab technician with Beth to help Jon get his colleague out of the lab.
They were all leaving the lab as the special recovery team arrived at the door, Beth immediately strode up to them and said, “I demand to speak with whoever is in charge of this unit.”
A man stepped forward, nothing distinguishing him as being ‘in charge’ other than his manner, “That will be me,” he said. “What can I do for you Dr Volcker?”
Momentarily taken aback by the fact that he addressed by her name, was clearly aware of her position as head of research and that she was at the CS facility. Beth demanded to know on whose authority she was being denied access to her own lab facility. When he told her that her question was irrelevant and one that he was not required to answer, she exploded with anger. “You have no authority to remove the body from this lab. I insist on speaking to your executive.”
He replied coldly, “That isn’t necessary Dr Volcker, I have full authority here and if you try to impede my mission any further I will have these troopers here arrest you.” He nodded in the direction of Sami and Jon, a hint of recognition clouded his face. He continued to address Beth, “Now step aside and let us do what we came for.”
Beth stepped aside while frustratedly saying, “But you can’t simply just remove the body, it may get damaged and if it has really recovered from cryogenic freezing it’s important that we discover as much as we can for as long as it remains alive.”
“I can assure Dr Volcker that my team is quite competent and that the body will be safely transported somewhere else for examination. All members of this facility are to continue with their duties but they, including yourself doctor, are to stay out of the lab until we are gone.”
Beth went back to the penthouse and once inside burst into tears. But her tears were more out of the anger and frustration over the treatment she had just received and the missed opportunity of taking her research forward, than for any concern over the resuscitated body.
Sami contacted Sergeant Qasi on her VS who said, “Hello Sami, I trust you’re fully cooperating with the SRU team.”
“Sure thing Sarge”, replied Sami, “but how far does this cooperation go, can they really order us to arrest Dr Volcker?”
“Just do everything they ask you and Jon to do and stay there until they leave.”
“Sure Sarge but…”
“Enough Sami! You have your orders.”
Reluctantly Sami signed off with “OK Sarge.”
The VS alarmed in the penthouse, having recovered her composure Beth looked at the large wall screen to see the figure of the patrol trooper outside her door. Unsure of why she was there, Beth asked her what she wanted. “I came to apologise,” said Sami, “I saw how upset you were at the body being removed, sometimes our job requires us to take actions we may not agree with.”
“You’d better come in,” said Beth releasing the door.
Sami entered the sumptuous apartment, immediately irritated and envious at the same time to think that some people lived in what was to her such luxury. Her flat at the Society Service Guardians apartment block didn’t come close to any comparison. Smiling she introduced herself to Beth, “Hello Doctor Volcker, my name is Samidha Johar, but everyone call me Sami.”
“Well Sami it’s a pity we had to meet under these circumstances, but you have no reason to apologise, I know that you were only doing your job.”
Is she patronising me thought Sami, what other circumstances were we likely meet under, we live completely different lives, this is hardly a Guardian’s block.
Containing any resentment Sami gave Beth a wan smile, “You seemed pretty upset at the way it went down just now.” Suspicious that Sami may be on some sort of fishing trip for the SRU team, Beth became extremely cautious and seeking a diversion asked Sami if she would like to seen what the SRU were doing in the resuscitation lab. “You can do that from here!” Sami exclaimed.
Beth asked the VS to show the resuscitation lab. A picture of the lab appeared with the SRU team working in what certainly seemed to be an efficient manner preparing the resuscitation chamber for removal. Then the person who had said that he was in charge of the SRU team looked directly at the surveillance pod and Sami gasped. “What’s the matter?’ Beth asked, “You look like you’ve just seen a ghost.”
“Perhaps I have,” Sami replied. She then told Beth about the body she had found last year that didn’t have a biometric implant but what looked like a faint scar where it should have been.
“But that’s not possible: Is it?”
“It’s certainly not supposed to be, and at the time I thought my sergeant’s reaction odd in insisting that a Special Recovery Unit was sent for the body. Now I realise why the person in charge of this SRU looked at me the way he did. He was in charge of the SRU that recovered the body.”
“You might think so,” replied Sami, “but there’s no feedback to our database when a body is taken by an SRU. I thought nothing more of it at the time, but now…” Sami’s voice trailed off as she began recalling the incident. Then she said to Beth, “In theory no one should have been able to place the body where we found it without being detected, yet there are no records of anyone being detected. I can understand an SRU team coming for a body with no BMI but how did they know so soon? I’m sorry,” said Sami, “that was a rhetorical question.”
Forgetting her suspicions about Sami’s motivations, Beth said, “Rhetorical or not it is odd, as odd as an SRU appearing here so quickly. Do you think the two are connected?”
“Perhaps …” and Sami began trying to think of a connection.
Interrupting Sami’s thoughts Beth said, “Maybe they’re not. But it’s odd that body in the lab also has a scar where a biometric implant would be and even more odd that the DNA and leukocyte analysis don’t match those of the body supposed to be stored in the cryogenic chamber.”
“What’s the significance of a leukocyte analysis?” Sami asked.
“Children inherit a set of 21 chromosomes from each parent, which are the structures containing the genetic material that determines who you are. These chromosomes carry the antigens important to organ transplants. They are the genetic markers unique to a body, called HLA, or human leukocyte antigens, the process of identifying these antigens is called tissue typing. Those of the body didn’t match its records”
“I’ll take your word for that doctor, but how do you know!”
“The long term storage of harvested organs is my research speciality”, Beth said, “and when I had that brief chance to look at body, the readings from its resuscitation chamber scan were at odds with those I had previously read on the body’s records. Also positive leukocyte readings from the resuscitation chamber scan would only be possible if the body were alive.”
The VS alarmed and they both looked at it. The man in charge of the SVU team was outside the door with Jon. Beth released to door and let them in. When they entered Jon was holding his sidearm and was pointing it at Sami. “Sorry Sami but I’ve been instructed to take your sidearm. You are both to go with this man and do exactly as he tells you.”
“Both of you need to come with me”, the man said and guarded by Jon, he led them both to a car that was waiting outside the CS facility. Having ordered them both to get onto the back of the car, it sped off into the night. Beth and Sami realised that they were locked in what was effectively a prison cell.
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